March 26, 2021

Senator Warren Joins Senator Markey and Reps. Lofgren and Neguse to Reintroduce the GRACE Act

The GRACE Act will reestablish the United States’ Commitment to welcoming refugees by preventing a U.S. President from setting a Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions at a level below 125,000

Text of the Bill (PDF)


Washington, DC – As the world faces the highest levels of displacement on record, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representatives Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) and Joe Neguse (CO-02) to reintroduce the bicameral Guaranteed Refugee Admission Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act. This legislation would strengthen the Refugee Act of 1980 by preventing the President from setting a Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions at a level below 125,000.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, 79.5 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Among them, nearly 26 million are refugees, and more than half are under the age of 18. Unfortunately, the Trump administration dismantled our nation’s refugee program and set the annual refugee admissions target at historically low levels, contrary to the intent of the Refugee Act of 1980. 

In addition to preventing a President from setting annual refugee admissions below 125,000, the GRACE Act also strengthens the refugee program by:

  • Automatically setting the annual level of refugee admissions at 125,000 if the President fails to issue a determination by the statutory deadline of October 1;

  • Ensuring that each officer responsible for refugee admissions or resettlement treats the Presidential Determination as a goal;

  • Encouraging the President to consider the report of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) on global resettlement needs when setting the Presidential Determination and determining regional allocations; and

  • Mandating quarterly reports to Congress with specific oversight requirements.


Additional co-sponsors of this legislation in the Senate include Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

The GRACE Act is endorsed by America's Voice, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, Aspire For Humanity Initiatives, Azerbaijan Society Of Maine, Cambodian Community Association of Maine, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Center for Security, Race and Rights, Center for Victims of Torture, Central American Resource Center of Northern CA - CARECEN SF, Church World Service, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles - Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Service, Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC), Exodus Refugee Immigration, Inc., HIAS, Hispanic Federation, Human Rights First, Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, International Refugee Assistance Project, International Rescue Committee, Law Office of Sonia Parras PLLC, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Lights for Liberty, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Maine Business Immigration Coalition, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, National Council of Jewish Women, National Immigration Law Center, National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, National Partnership for New Americans, New York Immigration Coalition, Oxfam America, Refugee Congress, Refugees International, RefugePoint, Revolutionary Love Project, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team, Society of the Sacred Heart United States Canada Province, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), The Advocates for Human Rights, The Revolutionary Love Project, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), Union for Reform Judaism, United Stateless, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Veterans for American Ideals, Voice for Refuge Action Fund, Welcoming Immigrant Neighbors-Bangor, Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, Women for Afghan Women, and Yemeni American Merchants Association.

The introduction of this bill is part of Senator Warren's ongoing efforts to protect the rights and wellbeing of migrants and asylum seekers.

  • In March 2021, Senator Warren, Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and Senator Booker reintroduced the bicameral COVID-19 in Immigration Detention Data Transparency Act, legislation that would require COVID-19 data collection in immigration detention facilities, fill information gaps, and provide public health experts, policymakers, immigration advocates, and the public with critical information about COVID-19 in immigration detention facilities.

  • Also, last month, Senator Warren joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) in introducing the bicameral U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, President Biden's bold, inclusive, and humane framework for the future of the United States immigration system.

  • In February 2021, Senators Warren and Booker led their colleagues to question ICE and DHS on disturbing new allegations of abuse and forced deportations of migrants and asylum-seekers.

  • In November 2020, Senator Warren joined Senator Merkley in sending a letter demanding that the Trump administration halt any and all plans to deport dozens of women who have come forward to report unnecessary and forced medical procedures while detained at Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Georgia. 

  • In November 2020, Senators Warren and Markey led the Massachusetts congressional delegation in calling for all deportations to be halted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In September 2020, the Senator joined her colleagues in calling for a congressional hearings into a whistleblower report of medical negligence at ICDC.

  • In May 2020, Senator Warren joined a letter to the DHS OIG requesting an investigation into the conditions that led to the death of the first individual in immigration detention from COVID-19 at Otay Mesa, an ICE facility in California.

  • In June 2020, Senator Warren joined a letter to the Trump administration calling for a reversal of a variety of policies that had drastically weakened the U.S. asylum system. 

  • In April 2020, Senator Warren cosponsored Senator Booker's Federal Immigrant Release for Safety and Security Together (FIRST) Act, legislation that would provide for the release of vulnerable, low-risk detained persons from immigration detention facilities during the pandemic.

  • In April 2020, Senator Warren joined Former Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in a letter to the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) requesting they open an investigation into the conditions at ICE detention facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In March 2020, Senator Warren and Representative Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to CBP, calling on it to strengthen its new Medical Directive, which mandates the agency's requirements for medical screening and delivery of medical care to migrants in CBP custody.

  • In September 2019, Senator Warren joined Senator Merkley, Markey and colleagues urged the Trump administration to revise the proposed ceiling of refugees and keep America's longstanding commitment to vulnerable people around the world.